I recently moved to where I am now living on the beautiful Central Coast of California. I seem to have a “gypsy soul” because I have actually have moved a lot in the last 15 years (at least 10 times)! Each time I move I love to look at a map of the surrounding area and study where everything is, such as stores and restaurants, as well as nature areas for exploring (the green areas on the map)! Surely that comes from the days of growing up traveling to various places for summer vacations as I leaned over the car’s front seat (no seatbelts back then – yikes!) while my mom read the map and provided instructions on where to turn next — the “old fashioned GPS”! I still feel a vibrant energy thinking back to those days of going on a new adventure!
These days I rely heavily on my technological “GPS” navigation device to find my way around, especially after a move until I am confident I can get from “point A” to “point B” without assistance. After a while I try going without the GPS to get to my new favorite hike, for example. At first there is an awkwardness and lack of confidence, but determination, in getting there on my own. Sometimes I make a wrong turn and am on the wrong course, but after awhile it becomes easier and eventually effortless because the pathway on the road is now mapped out in my brain. That’s called creating a “neuronal pathway”.
I realized that the GPS and mapping is a perfect metaphor for our journey to experience a happier, healthier, more balanced life: moving from stressful living to balanced living; from being unwell to vibrant health; from difficult relationships to peaceful ones; from negative attitudes to “gr’attitude”; from distracted to focused, and so on. Each of us has something in our lives that we would like to move away from, and move towards a better “place” of being. When we get “off course”, feeling lost, or finding ourselves making a “u-turn” towards old habits, we use our map to head back in the direction we are going.
Just like the GPS is a tool, so, too, there are mindfulness “tools” available for us to use that have been proven over and over to improve our well-being. The practice of mindfulness in daily living strengthens our brain and balances our bodies and minds. Some of you are still unclear on how mindfulness can help you, while others of you still feel “awkward” at integrating it into your life. I love to help guide people to move from your point A to your point B, whatever that may be. The paper maps we used on our traveling trips when I was growing up were marked with highlighters by the folks at the AAA Auto Club to help us find our way. Let me highlight the ay for you! It’s okay to ask for help when we need help along the way!
If you have some experience with mindfulness, you understand that you continually need to keep charging up that “GPS tool” or it won’t “work” for you. Simply knowing mindfulness tools are available is not enough just like having a GPS in our car won’t do us any good if we don’t get in the car and turn it on and GO! When we take action to get to point B, that is what creates the changes in our lives that we desire or want. That’s our personal inner GPS resource or tool to Generate Positive Steps on your journey to well-being.
Here’s an example of my GPS~
Mapping out Intentions: More peace in my life.
Action Tools: Learn and practice mindfulness; Notice when tension arises (awareness improves with mindfulness practice); deep calming breaths to activate parasympathetic nervous system (deactivating sympathetic nervous system); take a break; reframe my thinking; practice positive states; meditate; mindful movement; and more! There are many, many ways to practice mindfulness.
Result: Feel more positive & balanced; overall happier; sleep better; and more!
When we respond more skillfully to life’s challenges by turning on our inner GPS, we are activating well-being that would have otherwise remained stuck in low gear!
“Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj ~
Pertaining to children: Let’s go one last step further with this metaphor (it’s so much fun)! It is important for parents and educators to understand that WE are the child’s navigational system, helping them while their brains develop, while they learn about their emotions, and how to respond to life’s challenges because their brains are not fully developed until their mid-20’s. Our role is to help guide children until they have mapped out their own way (then we can be the backseat driver, with occasional directions)! Be like the GPS. The GPS doesn’t yell when we make a wrong turn – it simply restates the direction in a neutral voice. We too, as parents/educators, can be there to support our children as they navigate through difficult terrain and maybe pull over when the road feels bumpy and let someone else have a turn at “driving”.
I hope this is helpful and if you are living in the Central Coast of California area I invite you to check out my upcoming programs, classes, playshops and mini-retreats! I also offer personal coaching for youth and for adults to provide a map for planning your journey. Beut remember, it’s YOU who holds the keys!
Sharpen your inner GPS to guide and navigate you from where you are currently to where you want to be using evidence based practices of mindfulness to potentiate physical and psychological benefits for well-being.